If you decide to open a coffee shop of your own, chances are you are a fan of coffee. While this will help you connect with and understand your customers better (over an owner who does not like coffee), it is important to remember that coffee will not be your only selling point. Below we have outlined many options for you to consider offering in your coffee shop besides coffee.
In a coffee shop you can sell coffee, food, drinks, coffee-related products, apparel, local products, reading material, classes, and even the very space your shop exists in. The options are limitless, but it may be helpful to focus on just a few of them so that you can stand out from your competitors without overwhelming yourself.
While some of these options may seem foreign to you, others may be ones you have already considered. We would challenge you to read on with an open mind, so you can truly decide what is best for your particular coffee shop.
Consumption Beyond Coffee
It is no surprise that when most people enter a coffee shop, they want to order a cup of coffee. However, sometimes these coffee drinkers bring someone who does not enjoy coffee along with them. It is wise to have drink options to offer these people as well. Ideally, this will keep them coming back, even if they do not ever order coffee.
Here are some possible drink options for your non-coffee drinkers:
- Hot Chocolate
- Cold Water
- Fruit Juice
It would be wise to include at least one option besides water from this list so that non-coffee drinkers feel like they are getting something special out of the coffee shop trip as well.
Whether or not your customer decides they want coffee to drink, they may want something to eat with their drink. There are a wide range of possibilities for what kind of food you can offer in your shop.
Some coffee shops focus their food provisions on sweets that fill customers up while they sip their coffee. This could mean:
Other coffee shops may provide these sweeter options, but will also include healthier breakfast options such as:
Finally, some coffee shops will go all out – they may provide some of the above options, but they focus heavily on simple meals that go well with a cup of coffee. These might include:
- Sandwiches (breakfast or otherwise)
- Bagels (could also be in sandwich form)
Before deciding what type of food or drink you will offer in addition to coffee, make sure you have the staff in place to make these options possible. It would be unfortunate for your coffee shop to commit to providing all sorts of meals, pastries, and drinks and then not have the necessary amount of people working to make it happen. This will only hold up production and upset customers.
Looking for some more information on selling foods in your coffee shop? This article has some great tips!
What Else Do Coffee Drinkers Love?
When considering what else to sell besides coffee, it is best to check with your customers first. One coffee shop in one city may have customers who love one product, while another shop in another city may experience quite another need.
One option to ask your people about is whether or not they would appreciate shop-specific drink containers.
Some customers would love to purchase a coffee mug with their favorite shop’s logo on it. If you allow it, they could even bring this very mug for you to fill with their coffee each day.
Likewise, thermoses might be a great seller that would encourage both non-coffee and coffee drinkers to get their drinks to go each day. Consider various programs that might allow customers to bring their own containers for a discount, or perhaps a special discount if it is one of your containers in particular.
Another option worth asking your customers about is coffee beans.
Some coffee drinkers will love your coffee so much that they will be willing to buy the beans themselves just so that they can make their own at home if they are in a pinch.
If you do have customers interested in coffee beans, ask them if they would be interested in a subscription service for those beans. If you can sign people up for a regular delivery of coffee beans, you will create a passive income stream for yourself with minimal effort.
People Love Merchandise
Everyone loves to express who they are. One way people share this identity is by purchasing products with their favorite brands on them.
Market your brand well by using your logo or slogan on everything in your shop and your customers just might want to bring it along home with them.
There are many options for what type of merchandise you can sell in your coffee shop:
- Canvas Totes
The list truly could go on and on. Again, the best tactic is always to do proper market research before purchasing too much supply. Ask your customers what they want and then give them exactly that.
People Love Their Location
Not everyone loves where they live, but for most people, there is a sense of pride that comes to them when thinking about their home city or town.
It may be worth capitalizing on this by offering products that point to this hometown or city identity. One way to do this is to also offer merchandise (such as the options listed above) with your location’s name on it.
Another way might be to actually invite local venders to sell their products in your shop. This will allow people to come to just one location to purchase multiple local products.
You may even be able to strike up a deal with the local businesses that you promote so that you can sell coffee at their next event for free or for a discounted rate.
A final way to sell products highlighting this love of your location is to sell art that showcases your area. Whether your shop exists downtown in the city or along country backroads, there are bound to be local landmarks that everyone loves.
Consider finding local artists painting local landmarks and hanging up their work around your store with price tags. While people are waiting for their order or enjoying their drinks, they can look around and consider what each painting would look like in their own homes.
Deciding on a location can be tough. If you’re looking for more tips on making that decision, check out this blog article!
Coffee Drinkers Love to Read
Okay, not all of them! But some of your customers may appreciate you providing the daily or weekly newspaper for them to purchase or read while they are enjoying their food.
You might also consider offering books for sale – some coffee drinkers will find this to be incredibly inviting. As always, check with your customers beforehand. If they are interested, this just might be a way for you to lean into your niche.
This will differentiate you from other coffee shops, making yours a shop worth checking out.
Host a Class
One way you can make a decent amount of income after typical high-traffic coffee shop hours is by hosting a class.
There are multiple people you can focus on in this effort, so be sure to know who your target audience is before scheduling and marketing.
If your target market is your customers, you could teach them all about the coffee beans you use. You might even show them some tips and tricks for if they decide to make their own coffee at home.
This type of training may be in high demand, but be careful that you do not give away all your secrets – you want your customers to keep coming back to you one way or another!
If your target market is other coffee shops, you could sell a training for how to successfully start a coffee shop. This also comes with its risks, because you do not want to train someone who may become your local competition. However, there are many ways to sell classes online if you prefer to focus on people outside of your area.
Use What You Have
In this case, we mean your space.
If you have a decent amount of space within your coffee shop, ask your customers and local businesses if they have any use for it. As long as it does not affect any lease you might have, you could rent out your shop after-hours for others to host classes or seminars.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many ways you can survey your people about their wishes.
This might literally look like a survey that you hand out for a few weeks within your shop. This could also be an online survey that you circulate through your email list or social media platforms. You could easily incentivize filling out this survey by offering a discount to everyone who completes it.
While it is not practical to do for everyone, you might also consider conducting some one-on-one or small group interviews or listening sessions.
Give a few key customers an opportunity to share everything about their desires for a coffee shop. Pay attention to where there is overlap between them, verify this agrees with your survey results, and lean into the areas that stood out the most to customers.
Marketing your coffee shop should be done online and offline.
Offline, you can hand out fliers, put up signs outside, and even send out a mailing to your local area. Make sure your branding is consistent and that everyone knows the name of your establishment and why you are unique.
Online, you can post updates daily on multiple social media platforms and even start an email list. Consider starting with Facebook and waiting to expand to other platforms until you are comfortable there.
One way to use Facebook well is by offering discounts or free items to customers who “check in” via their personal Facebooks. This will encourage them to show all of their friends where they most enjoy getting their coffee. By them sharing this “check in,” you have exponentially expanded your reach to additional potential customers.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun
My adventure in coffee began when I first launched my first coffee shop back in the early 2000s. I had to figure out so many things on my own and to make it worse within 2 years of opening two large corporate coffee chains moved in just blocks away from me!
As I saw smaller and even some larger coffee shops in the neighborhood slowly lose customers to these giant coffee chains and slowly close up shop, I knew that I had to start getting creative…or go out of business.
I (like you may be) knew the coffee industry well. I could make the best latte art around and the foam on my caps was the fluffiest you have ever seen. I even had the best state-of-the-art 2 group digital Nuova Simonelli machine money could buy. But I knew that these things alone would not be enough to lure customers away from the name brand established coffee shops.
Eventually, through lots of trial and error as well as perseverance and creativity I did find a way to not only survive but also thrive in the coffee/espresso industry even while those corporate coffee chains stayed put. During those years I learned to adapt and always faced new challenges. It was not always easy, however, in the end, I was the sole survivor independent coffee shop within a 10-mile radius of my location. Just two corporate coffee chains and I were left after that year. All told the corporate coffee chains took down over 15 small independent coffee shops and kiosks and I was the last one standing and thriving.
Along the years I meet others with the same passion for coffee and I quickly learned that it is not only “how good a barista is” that makes a coffee shop successful, but the business side of coffee as well.
Hence why I started this website you are on now. To provide the tools and resources for up and coming coffee shop owners to gain that vital insight and knowledge on how to start a coffee shop successfully.
Stick around, browse through my helpful blog and resources and enjoy your stay! With lots of LATTE LOVE!